The Invisible (Wo)Man

Posted on March 11, 2014 under Storytelling with 2 comments




Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be invisible for just one day?  What if you could carry on your daily routine without any of life’s little hassles?  Like dealing with other human beings.  You could dress in gaudy clothes and even get away without shaving or putting on makeup.  You could be the proverbial “fly on the wall” and watch others struggle through their day while you revel in anonymity.

Guess what?  I can tell you what it’s like and so can you because we’re all consumers and, at some point in our lives, we’ve been snubbed, ignored and treated like we weren’t even there.

A friend of mine was at a watering hole in Halifax a few days ago.  After sitting patiently for a considerable amount of time, she nearly had to lasso and hogtie a member of the wait staff to get a cold beverage.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned … or a thirsty woman wanting a beer.

I am conscious of client service as I work in the service industry.  While we’re not perfect, our office has a human being who answers the phone.  Clients entering the office are greeted with a smile and a coffee.  If we are running behind schedule, which doesn’t happen frequently, there are comfortable chairs and plenty of reading material.  And oldies playing on the radio station.  None of this would be considered a “wow” experience.

But not every business sees it this way.

There is one business in this province that I flat out refuse to ever patronize again.  When there’s a lineup (often) and when there is only one staff person on duty (often), there is no recognition of other customers waiting in line.  And there are no chairs, no reading material, no music, no water or coffee to distract you from the passage of time.  They might as well post a sign that says “Please stand and rot while I ignore you”.   A welcome mat would certainly register well-founded cynicism from any customer.

Equally disturbing for a non-shopper like me is going into a store where it is obvious, even to the parakeet in the cage, that I am looking for help.  Sometimes I wonder if I radiate an offensive smell or emit a piercing sound only detected by sales clerks.  I am not sexist but, please, why are some of the female clerks I encounter much more interested in their boyfriend that they’re talking to, or their cell phones or their fingernails?

Big box stores are absolutely the worst places for non-shoppers.  They obviously count on knowledgeable consumers who know where every one of their 450,000 items is situated.  I usually go in, wait to be ignored, get overwhelmed by selection and underwhelmed by customer service, and then leave.

Grocery stores are my favorite places to shop.  There are always helpful staff members meandering around the store, and they usually will march you right to the aisle and pull the product off the shelf for you.

You don’t even have to leave the house to be ignored.  My wife answered the phone one night and it was the local office of a federal political party, shilling for their candidate.  The caller asked for me.  When my wife politely replied that I was not at home, she was thanked and the call was ended.  Needless to say the party missed out on a chance to speak with the real political junkie in the house … and they missed out on her vote, too.

It’s time for the “invisible minority” to speak up.

That’s if anyone is listening.


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Highland Hearing Clinic

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